FHU Unveils Plaque Designating Old Main as "Historic Place"

NOVEMBER 12, 2013

Former Freed-Hardeman University presidents E. Claude Gardner and Milton Sewell unveiled a plaque Nov. 9 during halftime of the men’s Homecoming basketball game recognizing Old Main’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cornerstone of Old Main was laid in November, 1907, to house National Teacher’s Normal and Business College. The building was completed in September, 1908, in time for the fall term at a cost of $35,000.

The university is currently engaged in an effort to raise funds for the restoration of the century-old building. An estimated $5.5 million will be required to complete the project. Lobbies, hallways, Chapel Hall and other public spaces will be returned to their former glory. Classrooms and offices will be outfitted in modern technology to meet the needs of today’s classrooms.

Old Main reflects early 20th century Italian Renaissance Revival and Italianate-style elements. It features a centered, two-story portico with brick arches and Ionic columns, buff-colored brick, limestone keystones, brick quoins, gabled dormers, and domed cupola with bell. The formal architectural design was executed with local craftsmen, local labor and local resources.

“The building bears the stamp of the community in which it resides,” Erin Adams, former FHU archivist, said. Bricks were kilned on Mill Street and it is believed all timbers were processed on site.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Old Main was placed on the list in 2012.